Before and After Calvary

Jonah 1:2 “Arise, and go to Nineveh, and cry against it.”

Jonah 3:2 “Arise, and go to Nineveh, and preach unto it.”

Jonah received two calls from God. He disobeyed the first, but the second he fulfilled. Between the two calls, Jonah had a most gruesome experience. He died in the belly of the fish, was miraculously resurrected, and then deposited on dry land. [Note the difference in the two words in the two calls from God: (1) Cry against it, and (2) Preach unto it.]

The first message was a message of judgment, while the second message was a message of grace and mercy. It was also a call to repentance. Between the two calls there lies the death and resurrection of Jonah. The message of grace and mercy was after Jonah’s resurrection.

The same conditions prevailed before and after Calvary. The era preceding the cross was one of judgment. The dispensation following the cross was one of grace. What would it have been like if Christ had not come? [Describe the Jews under the law, and how the character of the law was displayed in the way it was given. Describe the stupendous happenings and depict the feelings of Moses.]

The revelation of the Law was awesome; it demanded perfection (see Exodus 20). It cursed and condemned delinquents, the sinner. It banished men. Galatians 3:16 says, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the Law.” The Jew, before the cross, had the judgment of God hanging over his head at all times. Moreover, he was banished from God’s presence on account of his sin.

Quote a few examples:

    The golden calf.

    The judgment of the sons of Korah, where 250 men were burned with fire (see Numbers 16).

    The two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (see Leviticus 10).

    The judgment of Achan and his family (see Joshua 6).

    The man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath (see Numbers 15).

    The sin of Miriam - Moses.

    The sin of murmuring - punished by sending fiery serpents (see Numbers 21).

[Describe the Jew as he sought to atone for his sin. He came over and over again with his sacrifice. There was no respite, no rest, no peace, and no assurance.]

All the time the law kept thundering at him, “The soul that sins shall die, without the shedding of blood no remission.” His sin, however, was never removed, it was only covered. Between the judgment of God and themselves there was the thin film of animal blood. There was no security. Jonah 1 says, “Cry against it.”

How would you like to have lived before the Cross? [Note and quote at this point Jonah 3:2 which says, “Preach unto it…” Quote also Galatians 3:13, which says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”] This introduces us to the grace of God, “The grace of God which brings the salvation hath appeared.” John 1:17 says, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” We find in John 1:14, the words, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory . . . full of grace and truth.”

Grace is unmerited favor. Romans 5:20 says, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” We were rebel sinners and enemies. We walked according to the course of this world. We were sons of disobedience, held captive by the devil, without God, without Christ, and without hope. We were helpless, useless, hopeless; we were the children of wrath.

It was at this time, when we were dead in trespasses and sins that the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of God’s love flowed towards us in Christ. We who were dead in trespasses and sins were made alive in Christ and now sit with Him in heavenly places. Paul adds, “For by grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast” (see Ephesians 2:8-9). [Note the hymn Amazing Grace and its author, John Newton. Note also Jerry McCauly.]

I’m glad I live after the Cross. In Christ I have forgiveness, peace, rest, assurance, and security. My sin is gone, never to be remembered again. Judgment is gone. I am justified and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. I am His masterpiece.

Dear unbelieving friend, aren’t you glad you live on this side of the Cross? Wouldn’t you like to be a beneficiary of the grace, mercy, and love of God? Come now as a repentant sinner and receive Christ as your savior and you shall be saved.